Colorado Company Developing Cleaner Fertilizer

A Colorado company, Bion Environmental Technologies, is currently experimenting with environmentally friendly fertilizer on a Pennsylvania farm. Environmental groups, particularly the Environmental Protection Agency, have long sought to regulate the use of fertilizer, citing its danger to the environment.

For example, over the last several months, the EPA has attempted to reduce the levels of pollution discharged into the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake in particular has suffered from high nitrogen pollution, caused by excessive use of fertilizer, which has damaged the chemical composition of the bay, killing wildlife and creating dead spots. The use of nitrogen rich fertilizers poses a similar danger to other water sources.

Bion Technologies has recently opened a multimillion dollar facility on Kreider Farms in Lancaster County. The facility collects animal waste, storing it in a large-scale lagoon, much like current fertilizer plants. However, the lagoon at Kreider Farms makes us of billions of bacteria that help convert the nitrogen in the lagoons into less reactive forms. By converting the nitrogen, the lagoon and the plant releases less nitrogen into the water system, while simultaneously concentrating it in the fertilizer, reducing the amount of fertilizer needed.

Bion Technology officials hope that clean fertilizer will offer a more cost effective way to clean up the Chesapeake and to protect natural resources in general. Producing cleaner fertilizers is significantly cheaper than cleaning up a polluted water source. The Bion operation is funded in part by state grants and U.S. Department of Agriculture research grants.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer